Revelations about Songs of Experience on “Written in My Soul”
Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2017-10-18)
Bono was interviewed on Bill Flanagan’s show “Written in My Soul” which airs on Sirius XM radio (satellite radio.) We’ve put together some notes about this interview which originally aired on October 18, 2017, but was recorded just as “The Blackout” was released, on Labour Day in the Sirius XM studios in New York City. The interview opens with a discussion of “You’re The Best Thing About Me”, which at the point of the interview had not been released yet. Flanagan has heard the entire album, and likens it to going on a journey, and says it’s better than Achtung Baby. We will try to cover some interesting points from the interview, but it will be far from covering the whole interview. The interview will repeat on Sirius XM over the next week, if you have access.
- There is a new song on the deluxe version of the album “The Book of Your Heart” a song about helping your partner to get through life and vice versa. Not on the main album, but only on the deluxe version. Bono writes about the cold passion of relationships. “Great relationships need management. In a great relationship that management is shared”, and Bono feels he was managed through difficult periods by Ali.
- “Landlady” is a song about Ali helping Bono out as the band was starting. “The landlady is the person that put you up and paid your keep.” Bono: “I rather liked it”.
- “Summer of Love” is a sexy song, but a dark undertow, and the song deals with Aleppo. It starts as a couple in a position of privilege talking about moving to California and moving on in life, but as the song shifts it becomes a song about refugees drowning, trying to get to a better life. Bono: “It’s so light a listen, you can miss the dark undertow in it. It’s a beautiful sexy song.” Bono talks about looking out on the Mediterranean at his home in France, and realizing it was the same water that refugees are dying in, risking everything to flee war. Lyric: “I’ve been thinking of the west coast, but not the one everyone knows” (a reference to Syria)
- There’s a “lunatic preacher” who is “reinventing the attitude” at the end of “Get Out of Your Own Way” going into the start of “American Soul”: “Blessed are the superstars, in their luminescence we discover our own inadequacy. Blessed are the filthy rich, for you can only truly own what you give away, like your pain. Blessed are the arrogant, for theirs is the kingdom of their own company. Blessed are the bullies, for one day they will have to stand up to themselves. Bom bob. “American Soul.” Blessed are the liars. Bom bom. Because the truth can be awkward.”
- “Love is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way” is the first time Bono has sung about the house he lives in in Killiney: “If the moonlight caught you crying in Killiney bay, sing your song, let your song be song. If you listen you will hear the silence, when you think you’re done you’ve just begun”. Song is a letter to his sons, what he would say to them if it was the last thing he could say to them. “The door is open for you to go through. If I could I would come too. But the path is made by you as you’re walking. Start singing stop talking. If I can only listen to what I say. Love is bigger than anything in its way. So young to be the words of your own song. I know the rage in you is strong. So write a world where we can belong to each other, and sing it like no other. I could listen to what I say. Love is bigger than anything in its way”.
- “American Soul” will follow “Get Out of Your Own Way” on the album.
- “Summer of Love” will follow “American Soul” on the album.
- “The Showman” contains the lyrics “you look so good a little more better you look so good that’s whats going to get you” and may be what happened to the song “Much More Better”. It’s a letter to the audience to be careful of performers. Lyric: “I lie for a living, i love to let on, but you make it true, when you sing along”. Bono says its almost a country twist to the song. Lyric: “Babies cry because they are born to sing. Singers cry about everything. Still in the playground falling off a swing. But you know by now. Walk through the room like a birthday cake. When I’m all lit up You can’t make a mistake. There’s a level of shallow you just can’t fake. You know that I know. You don’t care. You Know I’m there.”
- “The Showman” will lead into “The Little Things that Give You Away” on the album. It is conversation where your innocence challenges the person you’ve become.
- Bono enjoys the psalms where David argues with God, and “The Lights of Home” is Bono arguing with God. Lyric: “I saw a statue of a gold guitar”.
The studio version of “The Blackout” was played as going to commercial break and about 45 seconds of the studio version of the song was heard. After the break, the conversation shifted to a discussion of Leonard Cohen, the merits of focusing on just being an artist instead of pursuing his activism, Father Jack Heaslip, a discussion of “Kite”, written as a letter to Bono’s daughters as a precursor to this new album which has been described as a series of letters to family and friends, and even to the audience. The music at the end of the second segment was “Kite” from All That You Can’t Leave Behind.